Listen to this: TSA Goons Hassle Ron Paul Supporter
I agree with the LRC blogger that this is crossing the line...
The Nick Lezard controversy... new developments
13 minutes ago
April 4, 2009 4:09 PM
I watched the entire webcast of that interview. May I offer a perspective ?
There's more at work here than simple greed or incompetence on the part of some business/financial and political types. THOSE have been with us since forever. I could tell you stories about all sorts of bubbles bursting, from the South Sea Bubble to the Tulip Craze to Teapot Dome.
What's going on here is an entire social system that is failing, in important respects.
Since about 1900, we have had in place a system in which most Americans (and most Humans, for that matter) are surrounded by---"marinated in" would be more accurate !---thousands upon thousands of media messages a day. These messages, by and large, are messages of "Buy/Spend/Consume". Since 1950 or so, "Buy/Spend/Consume" has had "go into debt" added to it. More modern media messages have added things like "product placement" to them, to the point where we expect our fictional TV characters to drink Coke, drive Hummers and eat at McDonalds. This further reinforces the "Buy/Spend/Consume/Indebt" meme as socially dominant.
Meanwhile, the formal (school/college) educational system has had virtually all elements of financial-literacy education removed from it. I recall my grandfather (a former public-school teacher) telling me that almost everyone who went to school when he was a youth took "Commerce & Banking" or "Commercial Transactions" or some similar class, and in those classes, they were taught about things like compound interest, mortgage calculations and the like. (Of course, back then money was "hard" and relatively scarce, so a knowledge of how it worked was more or less an essential.) Nowadays, it is considered daring and on the cutting edge to inform college students of the dangers of credit-card debt !
Meanwhile, the financial and manufacturing magnates, along with their counterparts in the central- and provincial-government apparati, have used this process to their advantage, at the expense not just of the citizenry, but of the very concept of citizenship. By expanding the large corporation as a force, they create a society composed of employee/consumers. Employee/consumers have a different mindset, and approach the world in a different way, from freemen/producers. A simple example: the employee/consumer thinks "What can I get ? What are the benefits ?" The freeman/producer thinks "What do I need to do---what do I have to offer in order to get paid ?"
Politically, the employee/consumer is a "beneficiary", a receiver of goods/money provided by someone else, namely the all-benevolent State. The freeman/producer is a taxpayer; it is his/her production that is siphoned off from in order to generate the benefits.
Philosophically as well, the employee/consumer/beneficiary is vastly different from the freeman/producer/taxpayer. The first category of person thinks of the world first in terms of "rights". The second category of person thinks of the world first in terms of "responsibilities".
In practical economic and political terms, the current elite--the alliance of State and megacorporate congeries---has managed to maintain the power and tenure-in-office of its members through a program of trading lavishly-dispensed economic and legal "privileges", including large quantities of consumer goods for votes and money.
This society-wide "transaction" has been financed by increasingly onerous exactions from the actually-productive class, through taxes and mass-indebtedness, to the point where said productive class is increasingly unable even to afford to be able to reproduce itself. (It is no accident, IMO, that the former Western nations' current financial problems have coincided with their inability to reproduce themselves and their related immigration/assimilation problems.)
OF COURSE the government and financial elites have been lying ! It's what they do ! It's how they stay where they are !
What this produces---I'm sorely tempted to go so far as to say that the outcome is just about inevitable---is an environment where Humans are more "consumer" than "citizen", more sheep than shepherd, and more child than adult. This kind of environment simply cannot be sustained over the long term. (See the population-reference above.)
I predict that now and over the course of the next 20-30 years, the "bubble" that is our entire society will continue to burst, as the reassertion of financial and social realities over the artificially generated illusions of the elites reveal the actions of those elites as the frauds that they are. As political/social decision-makers, they have two choices: either downsize and decentralize (politically and economically) towards a society based on localism, production and personal responsibility, or try to maintain their position through keeping up the current set of income-transfers, personal "freedom" and a goaded-consumption, increasingly illusionary economy---until the wheels come off.
They'll go for "Door Number Two", of course. After all, it's what they do best. Hang on to your hats, gang. We're in for one whizzer of a wild ride.
For centuries the humanistic disciplines were at the heart of the university: while the sciences were an integral part of the original liberal arts education, they were understood to be the main avenue toward understanding the natural and created order of which humankind was a crowning part. Humanity was the highest created creature, the created creature most worthy of study, because we were created in God’s image and, as a creature with Godlike features, we were the creature that had the unique capacity for liberty. This liberty, we understood, was subject to misuse and excess; the oldest stories in our tradition, including the story of humankind’s fall from Eden, told the tale of the human propensity to use freedom badly. To understand ourselves was the effort to understand how to use our liberty well, especially how to govern those appetites, submission to which would actually represent the loss of our liberty and reflect our enslavement to desire. At the heart of the liberal arts was an education in what it meant to be human: how to negotiate that hard and difficult task of determining what was permitted and what was forbidden, what constituted the highest and best use of our freedom and what actions were – to use varying terms - hubristic, sinful, unethical, immoral – wrong. We consulted the great works of our tradition, the vast epics, the great tragedies and comedies, the reflections of philosophers and theologians, the revealed Word of God, those countless books that sought to teach us what it was to be human, above all, how to use our liberty well. To be free – liberal – was itself an art, something that was learned not by nature or instinct, but by refinement and education. At the center of the heart of the soul of the liberal arts were the humanities, the education of how to be a human being.Whose conception of a liberal education does this represent? Not Aristotle, and not the medievals. The education the medievals pursued was for the sake of Divine Truth; truth about man was subordinate to it, and the knowledge was more speculative than practical. (And I'm not sure if the medievals even spoke of a liberal education, as opposed to the liberal arts, which were first identified with philosophy, and then later seen as a preparation for the study of philosophy and theology.) What Professor Deneen writes sounds more like the conception of a liberal education one would find at ISI. Is it how the Renaissance humanists defined 'liberal education'?
I suppose that what I would like is an abundance that everyone appreciated and did not take for granted. This would require that everyone was aware that things could be different from how they actually are, an awareness that it is increasingly difficult to achieve. I myself can hardly remember what it was like to live without personal computers and the internet, though I have lived the majority of my life without them. I now take them sufficiently for granted that if, for any reason, I am out of range of the internet, I regard this as something of an outrage.
But where can one get the light and wisdom to carry out this mission, which involves every one in the Church and in society? It is certainly not enough to take recourse to human resources; it is necessary to trust in the first place in divine help. "The Lord is faithful forever": This is how we prayed a while ago in the Responsorial Psalm, certain that God never abandons those who remain faithful to him. This reminds us of the theme of the 24th World Youth Day, which will be held at the diocesan level next Sunday. The theme is taken from St. Paul's first Letter to Timothy: "We have our hope set on the living God" (4:10). The Apostle speaks in the name of the Christian community, in the name of all those who have believed in Christ and are different from "others who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13), precisely because they hope, nourish confidence in the future, a confidence not based on ideas or human foresight, but on God, the "living God."
Dear young people, we cannot live without hope. Experience shows that every thing, and our own life, runs the risk, can collapse for any reason internal or external to us, at any moment. It is normal: Everything that is human, hence hope, has no foundation in itself, but needs a "rock" on which to anchor itself. This is why Paul wrote that Christians are called to base human hope on the "living God." He alone is sure and trustworthy. What is more, only God, who has revealed the fullness of his love in Jesus, can be our firm hope. In him, our hope, we have in fact been saved (cf. Romans 8:24).
However, pay attention: In times such as these, given the cultural and social context in which we live, the risk can be stronger of reducing Christian hope to an ideology, to a group slogan, to an exterior coating. There is nothing more contrary to Jesus' message! He does not want his disciples to "recite" a part of his teaching, perhaps that of hope. He wants them to "be" hope, and they can be so only if they remain united to him! He wants each one of you, dear young friends, to be a small source of hope for your neighbor, and to be, all together, an oasis of hope for the society in which you are inserted. Now, this is possible with one condition: That you live of him and in him, through prayer and the sacraments, as I have written you in this year's message. If Christ's words remain in us, we will be able to carry high the flame of that love that he has enkindled in the earth; we can carry high the flame of faith and hope, with which we advance toward him, while we await his glorious return at the end of time. It is the flame that Pope John Paul II has left us as inheritance. He has given it to me, as his Successor; and this afternoon I hand it over once again, in a special way, to you, young people of Rome, so that you continue to be morning watchmen, vigilant and joyful in this dawn of the third millennium. Respond generously to Christ's call! In particular, during the Priestly Year that will begin next June 19, make yourselves readily available if Jesus calls you to follow him on the path of priesthood and of consecrated life.
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